COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Winters Blizzards

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring San Saba on Saturday, we stay in District 4-2A Division I with the Winters Blizzards. On Monday, we will take a look at the Ballinger Bearcats followed by the Bangs Dragons on Tuesday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: San Saba Armadillos

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Goldthwaite on Friday, we stay in District 4-2A Division I with the San Saba Armadillos. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Winters Blizzards followed by the Ballinger Bearcats on Monday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Goldthwaite Eagles

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring De Leon on Thursday, we stay in District 4-2A Division I with the Goldthwaite Eagles. On Saturday, we will take a look at the San Saba Armadillos followed by the Winters Blizzards on Sunday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: De Leon Bearcats

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Coleman on Wednesday, we stay in District 4-2A Division I with the De Leon Bearcats. On Friday, we will take a look at the Goldthwaite Eagles followed by the San Saba Armadillos on Saturday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Coleman Bluecats

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Cisco on Tuesday, we stay in District 4-2A Division I with the Coleman Bluecats. On Thursday, we will take a look at the De Leon Bearcats, followed by the Goldthwaite Eagles on Friday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Cisco Loboes

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Stamford on Monday, we move to District 4-2A Division I with the Cisco Loboes. On Wednesday, we will take a look at the Coleman Bluecats, followed by the De Leon Bearcats on Thursday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Stamford Bulldogs

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Hawley on Sunday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Stamford Bulldogs. On Tuesday, we will take a look at the Cisco Loboes, followed by the Coleman Bluecats on Wednesday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Hawley Bearcats

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Haskell on Saturday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Hawley Bearcats. On Monday, we will take a look at the Stamford Bulldogs, followed by the Cisco Loboes on Tuesday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Haskell Indians

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Forsan on Friday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Haskell Indians. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Hawley Bearcats, followed by the Stamford Bulldogs on Monday.

Continue reading “COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Haskell Indians”

COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Forsan Buffaloes

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Colorado City on Thursday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Forsan Buffaloes. On Saturday, we will take a look at the Haskell Indians, followed by the Hawley Bearcats on Sunday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Colorado City Wolves

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Anson on Wednesday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Colorado City Wolves. On Friday, we will take a look at the Forsan Buffaloes, followed by the Haskell Indians on Saturday.

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BCP Podcast No. 100: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 2)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After using this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams, Evan and Daniel discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools in this week’s podcast.

COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Anson Tigers

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Santo on Tuesday, we move to District 3-2A Division I with the Anson Tigers. On Thursday, we will take a look at the Colorado City Wolves, followed by the Forsan Buffaloes on Friday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Santo Wildcats

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Hico on Monday, we stay in District 8-2A Division II with the Santo Wildcats. On Wednesday, we will take a look at the Anson Tigers, followed by the Colorado City Wolves on Thursday.

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COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Hico Tigers

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Cross Plains on Sunday, we stay in District 8-2A Division II with the Hico Tigers. On Tuesday, we will take a look at the Santo Wildcats, followed by the Anson Tigers on Wednesday.

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BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Cross Plains Buffaloes

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Albany on Saturday, we stay in District 8-2A Division II with the Cross Plains Buffaloes. On Monday, we will take a look at the Hico Tigers, followed by the Santo Wildcats on Tuesday.

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BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Albany Lions

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Roscoe on Friday, we move to  District 8-2A Division II with the Albany Lions. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Cross Plains Buffaloes, followed by the Hico Tigers on Monday.

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BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Roscoe Plowboys

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Hamlin on Thursday, we stay in District 5-2A Division II with the Roscoe Plowboys. On Saturday, we will take a look at the Albany Lions, followed by the Cross Plains Buffaloes on Sunday.

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BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Hamlin Pied Pipers

Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

We start in Class 2A Division II with the Hamlin Pied Pipers. Friday we will take a quick look at the Roscoe Plowboys, followed by the Albany Lions on Saturday.

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BCP Podcast No. 99: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 1)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After receiving their copies on Monday, the duo used this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams. In Part 2 next week, Evan and Daniel will discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools.

FEATURE: Local coaches relish getting back with student-athletes

“It won’t be totally normal but we can get back to playing Friday night football, which is the goal. If we are playing Friday night football, all the other sports are going to be playing too. The main goal is to get to the fall.”

Those words came directly from the mouth of Abilene High football coach Mike Fullen on Monday afternoon after the Eagles wrapped up their first full day of strength and conditioning workouts earlier in the day following the state mandated shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve been playing, they’ve been swimming and they’ve been slamming up against each other, but we’ve got certain things that we have to adhere to,” Fullen said. “That’s their personal deal but if we don’t adhere (to guidelines), we could get shut down.”

The University Interscholastic League allowed schools to begin strength and conditioning workouts on June 8 and Wylie took full advantage of that opportunity. Meanwhile, Abilene High and Cooper each used two days last week as orientation to train student-athletes for how to enter campus.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: ‘What Might Have Been’ series a labor of love

In most years, I’d be spending this week decompressing from a long and eventful high school sports season.

The state baseball tournament, originally slated to wrap up Saturday, would have marked the end of an 11-month marathon for us here at Big Country Preps while signalling the beginning of our preparation for a new one.

Unfortunately — and I don’t think I’m breaking any news when I say this — 2020 has not been a normal year. Instead of following my strict routine with near ritualistic devotion, I’ve just been waiting for the next curveball and hoping  to foul it off.

To say it’s been a challenge would be an understatement. But it’s out of challenges that some of our best work comes, and I’d like to think that was the case with our “What Might Have Been” feature series, which ends today with this column.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: C-City sophomore was on the verge of making Big Country splash

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15.

Will Maddox was excited after his first round of high school golf this spring.

The Colorado City sophomore fired a 79 at Brownwood’s The Hideout Golf Club, marking the first time he’d broken 80 in tournament action.

That also would be Maddox’s final round representing the Wolves in 2020 as the UIL shuttered the spring season soon after.

However, the pandemic hasn’t kept Maddox from honing his craft. In fact, he noted having an extended downtime has benefitted his golf game.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young aces continue grind despite COVID-19 shutdown

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15.

After flashing ace potential as freshmen in 2019, Jim Ned’s Tate Yardley, Anson’s Trevor Miller and Winters’ J.P. Killough had big things planned for their respective sophomore campaigns.

The three hurlers, part of a young crop of Big Country pitching standouts that also includes fellow sophomores Brooks Gay of Wylie and Snyder’s Derek Dominguez, were hoping to take the next step in their development and further cement their places among the area’s top arms.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent suspension/cancellation of all spring sport seasons by the University Interscholastic League limited their mound time to a handful of early-season outings. But it hasn’t kept them from continuing their pursuit of excellence.

All three have remained active in their training through the shutdown, viewing this period as little more as a speed bump on the way to their ever-increasing goals.

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EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” — John Lubbock

My business partner, Daniel Youngblood, is the king of not worrying.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

If NASA were to announce that an asteroid impact was imminent in 15 minutes and that Abilene would be at ground zero, anything beyond a shrug of the shoulders from Youngblood would surprise me. Of course, I wouldn’t be there to see it. I’d be 25 miles down the road with the accelerator smashed to the floor, one hand on the steering wheel and a rabbit’s foot in the other.

The recent turmoil in the world has put both of our natures on display — him letting it all roll off his back and me, well … being me.

If fate allows it, a return to normalcy is the objective here and the sooner the better. As the designated worrier at Big Country Preps, I’ve been on pins and needles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive social unrest created by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And let’s just call it what it was — a murder.

That said, I’m currently doing my best to steal a page from the Youngblood stress-free handbook and turning my attention from our tumultuous, viral-plagued world to something I can understand: football. That means that heading into the summer months, we’ll be diving headlong into our previews for the upcoming season.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling”

BCP Podcast No. 98: Brady’s Shay Easterwood discusses importance of leadership in trying times

Brady football coach/athletic director Shay Easterwood has placed a heavy priority on leadership and program culture since taking over the Bulldogs three years ago. Both of those things have come to the forefront in recent months as people across the country have been forced to work through the COVID-19 pandemic and protests of racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.

On Tuesday, Easterwood joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood to discuss the importance of leadership and positivity in trying times for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 cost former Eastland star his first chance at the NFL

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

The sports cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just affect high school athletes from the Big Country. Brant Bailey, who grew up in Eastland and became a four-year starting tight end at Tarleton State University, lost his initial chance to sign with a NFL team as an undrafted free agent

Now back home stocking shelves and serving as a cashier at Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy in Eastland, Bailey likely will need a Kurt Warner stroke of good fortune to get a chance in the NFL.

The COVID-19 pandemic first canceled the pro day at Tarleton scheduled for March 23. APEC, the Fort Worth fitness center where Bailey was training with other NFL prospects this past spring, had scheduled its own pro day March 20.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Jayton standouts may very well have reached state tennis tournament

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

For those who keep track of Big Country high school athletics, the names of Tye Scogin and Tripp Scott are likely to ring a bell. The Jayton High School standouts have become familiar to area fans as key elements in back-to-back trips to the state basketball tournament by JHS. 

What very few realize, however, is that they were about to form what was anticipated to be one of the area’s top boys doubles teams in tennis — one that may have had a shot at a regional title and trip to state. 

We’ll never know. 

With the University Interscholastic League’s mandatory lockdown of all school activities across Texas due to COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of all spring sporting events as a safety measure, the Scogin and Scott duo never had a chance to materialize.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Senior-heavy Brady baseball team was poised to make history

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

When Brady graduates Shay Easterwood and Rocky Bernal returned to their alma mater three years ago — the former as the head football coach and athletic director and the latter as the head baseball coach — both knew the sophomore class they were inheriting was destined for big things.

In just their second year on the BHS campus, that group formed the nucleus for virtually every boys program, giving both coaches a promising future to look forward to.

This fall, Easterwood got to see that potential realized as his senior-heavy squad went 4-1 through district to make its first playoff appearance since 2016. Unfortunately for Bernal, he never got that same opportunity in the spring.

After getting off to a 9-2 start, the Bulldogs were stopped in their tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic. And when the University Interscholastic League’s spring sport suspension became a full-on cancellation, Bernal and his players were left to imagine what the rest of the season might have held.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Womack excited to see return of Stephenville athletes

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Monday will carry the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning for Stephenville athletic director Jerod Womack.

After not being able to see Yellow Jacket and Honeybee athletes in person for almost three months, Womack and his coaches anxiously await their arrival for the start of UIL-approved summer workouts.

“It’s going to be exciting just to see kids faces,” said Womack, who’s entering his third year running Stephenville’s athletics programs. “As much as you want to high five and hug them, that won’t be part of agenda. But to see their faces and start a new routine, we’re moving in the right direction.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Fanning talks about the spring he expected and dealing with COVID frustration

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Jim Ned football coach Matt Fanning is not only at the helm of one of the area’s fastest-growing football programs, but he’s also directing an overall athletic program that is on the rise. 

That comes with a downside, courtesy of COVID-19.

The Indians’ rapid ascent has made the program a point of interest for those paying attention throughout the area — creating a high potential for frustration on the part of Fanning whose hands have been tied by the pandemic.

Nonetheless, Fanning, who will carry a 16-7 mark into his third football season this fall, has managed to keep an even keel with a very simple approach. He now visits with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren to talk about the spring that might have been in Tuscola and how he’s kept his cool while prepping for the fall. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 was the last of Zant’s setbacks in 2019-2020  

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos by Chester Reynolds 

The cancellation of high school sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic was the last of three setbacks Hico senior Karson Zant faced during the 2019-2020 school year.

Zant rehabilitated through a football knee injury last fall and a baseball shoulder injury early this spring. But after returning to good health for Hico’s first two district baseball games, Zant ran into an obstacle he couldn’t rehab. On March 13, the COVID-19 pandemic initially suspended and eventually canceled all spring sports, including baseball.

“I thought for sure we were coming back when they first stopped everything,” said Zant, who continued to work out for baseball on his own. “I saw a quote on Twitter about the layoff that really motivated me. It said something like, ‘There are people who will not take this seriously. But six or seven of your teammates will work hard during the time off and come back and look completely different.’

“That kept me motivated to work harder to be better and help my team.”

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GAME STORY: Exhibition doubleheader provides closure for Breckenridge baseball team

If you had asked members of the Breckenridge baseball team before the season where they wanted to be on June 4, they likely would have told you either playing in or preparing for the Region I-3A championship series.

But after having a potential dream season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday’s exhibition doubleheader with Aledo served as a pretty nice consolation prize for the Buckaroos.

Hosting the Class 5A No. 12 Bearcats in an unsanctioned event put together by senior standout Owen Woodward’s father, Brad, the Bucks swept the twin bill 4-0 and 7-5 to put a bow as best they could on a campaign that may have ended in Round Rock under different circumstances.

And while it wasn’t the ending a senior-heavy Breckenridge squad was hoping for, getting one last opportunity to take the field together provided the close-knit Bucks a sense of closure they wouldn’t have otherwise felt.

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BCP Podcast No. 97: Eastland football announcer Slavens joins Evan, Dan

As the football voice of the Eastland Mavericks and the owner of several radio stations throughout the Big Country, Terry Slavens has been a part of area athletics for many years.

On Tuesday, Slavens took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about his broadcasting career, the challenges he’s faced as a result of COVID-19 and the upcoming football season for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

BREAKING: Baker leaving Baird after two seasons

Joel Baker announced his resignation as the head coach and athletic director at Baird High School on Wednesday after accepting a job as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Springlake-Earth earlier in the day.

The decision to leave the Bears, who won the independent six-man state championship last fall, did not come easy for Baker. The veteran coach did say that he was making the move for his family, though.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Gonzales’ breakout season halted by virus

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

With the Big Spring Lady Steers losing a number of key performers in 2020, a number of question marks existed about whether coach Chelsey Jordan’s team could find enough players to pull up the slack. 

Junior utility Jocelyn Gonzales answered many of them on her own. 

Gonzales, who entered the COVID-19 lockdown with a .500 batting average through 18 games, was well on her way to establishing herself as one of the top players in the Big Country.  

“Last year she was hitting in the sixth or seventh hole for us,” Jordan said. “But she was clearly our four-hole hitter this year. … She just steps up. She’s very clutch and if you have people on base, she’s going to score them. 

“We were just dying for someone to be a leader and we pulled her aside. She said, ‘Gotcha coach’ and ran with it.” 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Stamford baseball was hoping to build on surprise playoff run

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Coming off a surprise run to the Region I-2A quarterfinals last spring, the Stamford baseball team entered this season hoping for a strong follow-up campaign.

And after a slow start out of the gate while some young players adjusted to new or bigger roles, the Bulldogs were headed for just that when play was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regrouping from an 0-2-1 run at the Hamlin Rock Field Baseball Classic, Stamford evened its record at 3-3-1 with wins in three of its last four games, including victories over quality teams from Anson (5-4) and Windthorst (6-2). But before coach Kevin Bartley’s Bulldogs could parlay that momentum into something more substantial, the season was suspended and later canceled by the University Interscholastic League.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley’s do-it-all Leathers may have been area’s top utility of 2020

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Breanna Leathers’ versatility and dependability were a comforting combination for Hawley’s Maci Clayton.

The first-year coach not only started the aptly named Leathers in center field, but she was the Lady Bearcats’ second pitcher to Caitlin Crow.

Because of that, Leathers didn’t see much time at shortstop, but that change didn’t keep the junior from being unprepared.

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EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it

In a world that has seemingly gone mad, I’ll take any dose of good news that I can find — even if it’s mundane.

The stock market inched up a half point? I’ll take it. We can go back to worrying about COVID-19? I’m all-in. The buildings in Abilene are still standing? That’s a check mark in the plus column. 

So how do we get there? 

How do we reestablish normality? 

Aside from the obvious fact that we need to stop the ongoing mayhem that is plaguing our society, getting back to common things we all hold dear will set the foundation for healing. And I’m talking about the simplest of pleasures, from peaceful walks in the park, shopping in a mall, going to the movies or attending a sporting event. 

In Texas, the latter cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to football. 

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Region I-3A playoff race huge loss for this baseball junkie

Those who know me well know that I’m a “baseball guy” at heart.

I love football and basketball, but baseball’s my sport. It’s the one I played the longest and the one I follow most diligently now.

As a sportswriter, I enjoy covering all sports, but come springtime, there’s one I look forward to more than any other. And the baseball playoffs, in particular, have always held a special place in my heart.

So I had little trouble empathizing with our area players and coaches about the premature ending of the 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. I was almost as heartbroken as they were when the University Interscholastic League pulled the plug on the season just a few weeks in.

There were so many things I was looking forward to watching and never got to see play out. And perhaps nothing climbed higher on that list than a Region I-3A playoff race that was shaping up to be one for the ages.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Eastland football coach/AD James Morton talks about dealing with the lockdown

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

While preparing for his fifth season as the head football coach/athletic director at Eastland, James Morton was anticipating a productive overall spring from the EHS athletic program.

That is, until the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent cancellation of all spring sports was imposed by the University Interscholastic League as a safety measure.

Morton, who has guided the Mavericks to a 34-14 record and four straight postseason appearances during his tenure, has since found himself stuck in wait-and-see mode with every other coach in Texas.

He has, however, been able to reflect on the pandemic, while drawing upon 28 seasons of head coaching experience to get him through it. He now sits with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren to speak about his approach.

Here are a few excerpts from that conversation: 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: After historic 2019 season, Clyde golfers were poised for more this spring  

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Fred Wendlick played golf for Clyde, where he graduated from high school in 1985, and has coached golf at his alma mater for the last 20 years. But last year was special.

The Clyde boys’ golf team qualified for state for the first time in school history.

“It’s all about the kids,” Wendlick said. “It was an incredible year. We had a great time down there (in Austin) at the state tournament. We played hard, and we improved the second day.”

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BCP Podcast No. 96: San Saba’s Andreas Aguirre discusses first year as AD, COVID chaos

Andreas Aguirre’s first year as San Saba’s head football coach and athletic director was a successful one by any measure. The Armadillo football team had another excellent campaign, and the basketball team made its first state tournament appearance in almost a century.

But the COVID-19 pandemic made for an abrupt finish to the 2019-20 school year and presented some new challenges for the former SSHS defensive coordinator. On Tuesday, Aguirre joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss those challenges and how he’s handling the COVID-19 shutdown.

EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hamlin baseball keeping positive outlook despite shortened season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

After watching a young team take a nice step forward last spring, Hamlin baseball coach Ryne Lucas had the 2020 season circled as the year his Pied Pipers would finally break through as a district title contender.

And with HHS sporting a top-10 ranking in Class 1A from txhighschoolbaseball.com at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, it wasn’t just those within the Hamlin city limits that felt bullish about this year’s Pipers.

Unfortunately, Hamlin’s season was cut short by the global pandemic just six games in. But Lucas saw enough during that 3-3 start to believe that the 2020 campaign — truncated though it may have been — could still go down as a positive turning point for his program.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Loaded Clyde softball team halted in the midst of promising season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

“Be Legendary.”

That’s the motto that Reagan Sewell’s Clyde softball program latched onto a couple years ago, cementing their legacy by winning a program-best 30 games.

This year’s Lady Bulldogs were prepared to make their own history. Led by seniors Kaitlyn Turner and Peyton Lee, Clyde was off to a 12-3-1 start against quality competition and highly ranked in the TGCA Class 3A poll.

Did the COVID-19 outbreak cost the Lady Bulldogs a trip to state? Clyde was certainly a Region I-3A favorite along with the likes of Brock and Bushland. 

“We had already accomplished so many goals personally and as a team,” Turner said. “Our chemistry on and off the field this year was astonishing. I believe we had the momentum and determination to be legendary this year.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Brownwood senior heartbroken over loss of his final golf season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos by Maci Reagan

While answering questions for his “What might have been” feature, Brownwood senior golfer Caden Reagan eventually broke down and became emotional. 

His dream of reaching the state tournament, all of the work he put in and all of the sacrifices he had made were wiped out in one fell swoop when the University Interscholastic League canceled all spring sports as a safety measure against the COVID-19 pandemic last month. 

Reagan, 18, isn’t alone in this. He is simply one of thousands of high school athletes across the country who saw their senior seasons ended by a virus that has now killed more than 340,000 people globally, including more than 96,000 in the US. 

For Reagan, however, there is an additional element of sadness, having battled with Perthes Disease since he was 10 years old. Few people have had more to overcome in order to simply compete, much less to have a shot at state. 

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Seniors’ response to COVID-19 shutdown one we all could learn from

The 2019-20 school year is officially over, and a new crop of seniors will soon be ushered into the “real world.”

In that way — and that way only — this year is like most before it. 

But anyone who’s been conscious the past three months knows this is not a normal year. The COVID-19 outbreak has made sure of that, impacting lives worldwide and, on a local level, stripping this graduation class of the pomp and circumstance typically reserved for graduating seniors.

While the virus itself has hit certain age groups harder than others, the effects of this global pandemic have spared no demographic. And among those most impacted in the Big Country have been the aforementioned seniors, who have not only lost their spring sport seasons (and had their athletic careers ended prematurely, in many cases) but have also lost many of the rights of passage and memories many associate with their final year of high school.

But if you think it’s all negative or just need some hope for the future, I would encourage you to check out our What Might Have Been feature series. Because revealed in these stories of the area players and teams most affected by the COVID-19 shutdown is a maturity that makes this group as well equipped as any I’ve seen to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Breckenridge standout sees a winter of rehab go to waste

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Since tearing the ACL in his right knee in a Sept. 6 football game at Comanche, Breckenridge senior Kooper Shook has been diligently working on rehabbing the injury in preparation for baseball. 

That has often involved three 130-mile trips per week to Southlake for physical therapy while patiently waiting for his doctor’s approval for him to suit up and get on a baseball diamond. 

Finally, the nod from his physician was only days away in March. The work he had put in would, at last, pay dividends. 

Then it happened.

Shook, along with every other high school athlete in Texas was sidelined indefinitely by the University Interscholastic League’s COVID-19 lockdown. By April 17, the lockdown had evolved into an outright cancellation of spring sports across the state as a safety measure, leaving Shook with no opportunity to compete as a high school player ever again. 

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